Game Changers prototypes provide sensing solutions
With thousands of packages in engineered stores, it would be impractical to remove and inspect all of them, so in-situ measurements will be necessary. A range of measurement and deployment techniques are essential to deal with the site-wide challenge of package and stores inspection, providing appropriate mitigating action where required and reducing the dose to workers who currently deal with ad-hoc measurement.
Sellafield also seeks better understanding of how store conditions can change under various likely scenarios for different waste packages, to increase predictability and help infer waste behaviour. Monitoring tools are needed to detect early indication of deviation from predicted environments, e.g. temperature, humidity and chloride. Understanding long-term, optimum storage conditions for a range of products could influence new store design and build and improve existing stores.
Game Changers, a way to tackle monitoring challenges
Game Changers challenges were issued to help find solutions and two organisations who have produced convincing prototypes are the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics and expert electrical engineers Sensor Driven.
Fraunhofer have been working with Sellafield for two years, through Game Changers, to develop a system capable of remote hydrogen detection. During this time, an initial idea progressed through Proof of Concept to successful active, on-site, deployment.
The innovative technology is based on Raman spectroscopy and takes advantage of the unusually strong Raman emission of hydrogen and highly sensitive high-speed photodetectors. This allows remote measurement of both hydrogen concentration and the range.
It is a standalone, all-optical system, which makes measurements over extended range using only light. This means hydrogen can be detected without positioning operators or instruments in sensitive or hazardous areas. The system is capable of detecting hydrogen down to a concentration of 0.05% at distances of between 0.1m and 100m.
Other benefits include speedy hydrogen detection, flexibility to detect other molecules if required and an optional video “feed” so the operator can pinpoint the exact area of interest.
Sensor Driven has devised and successfully demonstrated a prototype sensor system to help Sellafield monitor cans in long-term storage. The system is radiation tolerant, records temperature and pressure of product cans and relays instant alerts and wireless feedback to operators.
The company achieved Game Changers funding to show that sensor components developed to dramatically extend battery life for decades can withstand radiation. Sensor longevity without battery replacement is critical when monitoring in areas with difficult access, especially those in harsh environments.
In the next phase of the project, Sensor Driven will concentrate on equipping devices with state-of-the-art communication capability and developing a plan for scaling production of the sensors.
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